Squeals!!!! PRIDE chapter 1.....

Friday, September 2, 2011
As most of you know, Pride comes out on Tuesday.... So, I'm super excited to share the first chapter!!! I hope you enjoy it!!!

Have a happy and safe holiday weekend!

Chapter 1: When I Grow Up
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?' Actually, who are you not to be? ~ Nelson Mandela

Tears spilled onto my cheeks as I bolted out of The Limited. I pushed my way through the crowd of people, my shoulder brushing against a woman to my left as I picked up speed.
“Hey!” she shouted. “Watch where you’re going!”
I didn’t have time to apologize. My mother was gaining on me and the sound of her voice carried down the narrow, mall corridor, “Angela! You get back here this instant!”
I kept running and running. I stopped at the end of the corridor, hunching over to catch my breath. Again, my mother shouted, “Angela Marie Dunne!”
Right now, I didn’t want to be anywhere near her. First, she rushed me out of the house to go school shopping. Then, when I expressed interest in a pair of jeans I actually wanted, she humiliated me in front all the associates in the store.
“Seventy five dollars! Absolutely not!” I said, mocking her shrill high pitched voice.
My mother caught up to me as I stalked toward the exit. “Angela!” she shouted.
I didn’t answer. I was too overwhelmed with emotion. I didn’t want to say something I would regret. She appeared next to me, keeping up with me. I never knew her short, chubby legs could go that fast. “You don’t need a seventy five dollar pair of jeans,” she stated, calmly.
She was the most frugal woman in the world, I swear. She didn’t even shop at the mall herself. Most of the time, my mother did shopping for her clothes at consignment shops. I had to admire that quality in her. She’d give up anything for herself if she felt like her kids needed something more.
At the moment, I noticed her examining me. She could see I was a loose cannon. That any given moment, I would snap at her. She was trying her hardest to reason with me. But, at that very second, I couldn’t be reasoned with.
I stopped mid-stride, trying to keep calm. “But everyone at school has jeans like that! You never let me wear anything cool!”
My mother reached into the J.C Penney’s bag, pulling out a pair of twenty dollar jeans that we had purchased. “Aren’t these cool?” she asked, scrunching her eyebrows together.
“No!” I snapped, pushing the pants away. “They’re cheap!” I surveyed the shoppers passing by, hoping that I wouldn’t see anyone I knew.
The look of disappointment radiated from my mother’s face as she pushed the jeans back into the bag. Embarrassed, she fumbled with the bag, trying to get a firm grip on it. Remorse seeped out of me. I shouldn’t have snapped at her like that. I swallowed hard. “I’m sorry, Mom. The jeans are fine.”
My mother never really cared about what other people thought. I suppose that should have been a quality I respected about her. Instead, I hated it. Did she even remember what high school was like?
She had mousy brown hair that was an inch above the shoulders. It always looked unkept. She never styled it, fixed it, or even blow dried it. Her frame was frumpy but, I figured after having a couple of kids, well, that’s what did it to her. And the way she dressed. Ugh, the way she dressed always made me cringe when going out in public
with her. I mean my Mom was frumpy, but nowhere near the plus size section. Yet, she always insisted on wearing clothes that were about two sizes too big for her.
If you took a good, long look at my mother and me, you might question the fact that we were actually mother and daughter. I was a good seven inches taller than her with a thin, lanky build. My Auburn hair was thick, glossy, and naturally wavy. Occasionally, I’d wear it down, allowing the billowy waves to spread across my back.
The one thing my mother and I actually had in common was our eyes. We both had wide set, navy blue eyes. I once heard my father say he could get lost in my mother’s eyes. Secretly, I hoped that a man would tell me that one day.
“Oh, sweetheart, If we could afford to buy you those other jeans, it wouldn’t be a problem. We just need the money for other things.”
I smiled. I knew that raising two kids in New York City was something that didn’t come cheap. Living in New York City period, was something that didn’t come cheap.
We used to live in Brooklyn, which was a lot cheaper than living in Manhattan. But when my parents decided that they wanted my sister and I to go a better school, they moved us from Brooklyn to the Upper East Side.
The school I went to was Manhattan Prep. A school where it was normal to see the students being dropped off by limousines, wearing the most recent designer fashions, and arrive toting the most lavish Louis Vuitton handbags. They never warmed to me. I wasn’t like them. They were a part of the blue-blood, upper crust Manhattan society and my family couldn’t compete with that. Because we didn’t have what they valued most, money.
We weren’t poor, but my parents definitely couldn’t afford to buy me any kind of designer clothes. My mother and father worked hard, long houred jobs to make sure my sister and I could have the best education. I should have appreciated it. But I didn’t. I was selfish.
Our residence now, was a tiny, two bedroom apartment that cost a fortune. I wasn’t thrilled about the fact that I had to share my bedroom with my kid sister, Mirabelle, who was only in the eighth grade, but what other choice did I have?
My father even had to take a second job, so we could have a little bit of extra money. Although neither one of my parents ever complained about it. I was the only one that did the complaining. Sometimes I wished I could get past my longing for expansive material things. But so far, in my life that longing still lingered inside of me.
As we neared the exit, I spotted a petite, blonde woman to my right. Her green eyes focused on my blue ones. I broke away from her penetrating stare feeling a little violated. It was like being gawked at by a pedophile. I turned my attention back to my mother who still had a forlorn look on her face.
“Mom, I love the jeans, I swear,” I blurted out, hoping that my kind comment would make her feel a little better.
She was still upset. My mother never hid her emotions. Her child-like, blue, eyes told me everything.
I wasn’t like her in the emotions department. Me, I could feel totally lousy on the inside, but on the outside, you‘d think I hit the lottery. After being tortured repeatedly in school day after day, for the last two years, I mastered masking my emotions. The thing about bullies is, you can never let them see that they are getting the best of you. You can never reveal the way you cry because of something they said. That makes them glow with pride. It adds fuels to their fire because, bullies feed off of other people’s pain.
I never truly understood why the kids at school tormented me. My mother always told me it was because they were jealous. But jealous of what? I didn’t come from money, I was average looking and my family members didn’t rub elbows with all of Manhattan’s elite. It was obvious that my mother was delusional. Either that or she saw something in me that I had failed to notice.
When we were a foot away from the exit, I glanced casually over my shoulder. That woman who was staring at me earlier was following us. I tensed up, turning my head around.
My mother looked over at me, concerned. “What is it dear?” Her eyes probed me intensely.
I picked up my pace, walking faster. “There is a woman behind us, following us.” My mother began turning. I grabbed her arm. “Don’t look at her!”
My mother didn’t listen. She looked over her shoulder. “Angela, there are lots of people walking behind us.”
“Mom, I know what I saw,” I began, “she stared me a little bit ago. Now, she’s following us!” My mother snuck in another glance over her shoulder. “Do you know her?” I asked when she turned back around.
“I don’t even know which woman you’re talking about.”
I turned my head slightly, trying not to be so obvious. There she was, inching closer and closer, her blonde bob moving as she walked. “The blonde woman with the shoulder length bob,” I whispered, leaning in to my mother’s ear.
My mother looked over her shoulder, narrowing her eyes. At the same time, the woman caught up to us, yanking on my arm.
“Ahh!” I screamed out. Instinctively, my arms went out in front of me and I pushed the woman away. She stumbled slightly, pausing to catch her balance.
My mother stopped, throwing her arm in front of me, shielding me protectively. “Who are you?” my mother asked her high pitched voice now low.
The woman put her hand up in a calming gesture. “It’s okay,” she said. “I’m not trying to hurt anyone. I just wondered if I could talk to you and your daughter for a second.”
How could she have known I was my mother’s daughter? Then, my eyes worked their way over to my mother. The way she put herself in front of me, would of told anybody she was my mother. She looked like a lioness protecting her cub. “About?” my mother inquired.
I watched the woman as her cat like green eyes scanned me from head to toe. “Has your daughter ever considered modeling?” she asked, moving closer.
That question took my mother by surprise. She scrunched her eyebrows together, puzzled. “What?” I have to admit, it took me by surprise too. My mother dropped her arm from in front of me.
The woman extended her hand. “My name is Olivia Lennox. I’m a modeling agent for The Fresh Faces Modeling Agency.”
My mother hesitated for a minute. She glanced up at Olivia’s face then back at her hand. Finally, she took Olivia’s hand, shaking it. “Annie Dunne. This is my daughter, Angela.”
Olivia smiled, turning her head in my direction. “Hello Angela.” I nodded in reply. I couldn’t answer her. This whole situation didn’t seem right.
Olivia led us over to a cast iron bench that was sitting directly to the left of the plexi glass exit doors. The three of us plopped down, squeezing into the confined seating arrangement. Olivia sat on one end, my mother was in the middle, and I was on the opposite end. Olivia reached over, patting my hand. I almost recoiled, tucking my hand in the pocket of my sweater. I didn’t know this woman. She could have been anybody. She could have been one of the deranged, homicidal maniacs who lured people out of the mall, piled them into a big white van, driving them off to some sadistic torture chamber.
Olivia pulled her hand away. “How old are you hun?”
My voice quivered. “Fifteen.”
I turned my gaze to the people walking through the mall in front of me, as my mother and Olivia engaged in some deep discussion. My thoughts began racing. My mind slowly drifted away from their conversation. Did Olivia really think I could be a model?
The definition of pluck is: to pull off or out; pick; to drag or snatch. That’s what Olivia Lennox had just done to me. She plucked me out the crowd at our local mall. It never occurred to me that agents actually did this, or that it was normal. Who just walks up to random strangers and asks them if they’ve ever considered modeling?
Still, there I was, sitting on a bench with my mother, and a modeling agent. This was unfathomable. I couldn’t even pinpoint what my emotions were gravitating toward. They were a jumbled mixture of fear, excitement, anxiety, and who knows what else? Part of the reason this whole scenario seemed fishy was that in my life, when I thought things were too good to be true, they were.
I always knew I was decent looking, but model material, really? Mental images of girls hailing the covers of Elle, Cosmo, and Vogue flashed through my brain. Could I even be compared to them? I didn’t think so. Those types of women were Goddesses of beauty. Those high standards were something I couldn’t even begin to compete with.
I was so absorbed in my own thoughts, I hadn’t even noticed that the conversation my mother and Olivia were having was coming to an end. I snapped out my trance, when my mother shoved into me, as Olivia slowly rose up from the bench. Then my mother rose slowly from her seat. I remained seated, feeling torn between which one of them I should be paying attention to. I looked at Olivia, then my mother. Then my mother again, then back to Olivia. Finally, I had reached an agreement with myself that I would just watch them both.
Olivia stuck her hand into the pocket of her brown, suede, business jacket, fishing around for something. She removed a business card, handing it to my mother. “Be at that address next Monday at 3:30 sharp if you’re interested.”
My mother took the card. “Thank you Ms. Lennox.”
Olivia laughed. “Please, call me Olivia,” she commanded, an all-around pleasant tone to her voice.
My mother nodded. “Okay. Thank you, Olivia.”
“No problem, Annie,” said Olivia. “You don’t mind that I call you Annie, do you?”
“Of course not,” my mother answered politely.
“Well then hopefully, I’ll see you both on Monday.” Olivia turned her gaze toward me. “Goodbye Angela.”
“Bye,” I said quickly. I hoped that if I said it fast enough, Olivia would leave sooner, rather than later.
I waited until Olivia disappeared from my view before I spoke. Once she was out of sight, my mother sat back down next to me on the bench. “Well mom,” I said. “What do you think?”
My mother put the business card into her purse. “I think we should wait and talk about this when we get home.” She stood slowly extending her hand to me. “I have to see what you’re father says.”
I took her hand, rising slowly from my seat. I eyed her oddly. “What? You don’t think she’s legit, do you?”
My mother nodded. “Yeah, I do.”
My mother held open the door for me as we walked through the exit. Well, there were two things that I had to recognize about today. One, maybe, just maybe, good things really did happen in my life. And two, today was the day that Olivia Lennox changed my life forever.

3 comments:

  1. khashway said...:

    I'm counting the days now, Lauren! I can't wait.

  1. Yay, Lauren! I like Angela's reaction to the agent - lol!

  1. I just downloaded my copy. : ) Can't wait to read it!

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